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MARCH 14 (SATURDAY), 16 WEEKS + 5 DAYS


She hardly looks pregnant at all, even though she's entering her fifth month. For weeks now, she's consumed nothing but croissants and sports drinks, and she's losing a lot of weight. Except for her visits to the clinic and to Dr. Nikaido, she stays in bed all day, as if she were seriously ill.

About the only thing I can do for her is to avoid creating any kind of odor, so I've changed every bar of soap in the house to an unscented brand, and I took the paprika and thyme and sage from the spice rack and put them in a tin. I moved all the makeup that was in her room to mine, and, since she'd started complaining about the smell of the toothpaste, my brother-in-law went out and bought a Water Pik. Needless to say, I try not to cook when she's around. But, if I absolutely have to make something, I take the rice cooker or the microwave or the coffee grinder out to the garden and spread a mat on the ground.

It's peaceful eating outside by myself, looking up at the night sky. The evenings are warmer now that spring is almost here, and the air feels soft. My hands and feet pressed against the mat are dull and numb, but everything else-the crepe myrtle, the bricks lining the flower beds, the twinkling stars-is sharp and clear. Except for a dog barking in the distance, the evening is perfectly still.

I plug the rice cooker into the extension cord I've strung out from the kitchen, and within a few minutes a cloud of steam rises from the vent and vanishes into the darkness. A packet of instant stew warms in the microwave. From time to time, a light breeze blows, rustling the leaves and carrying away the vapor.

I eat more slowly when I'm in the garden. The cups and dishes set out on the mat are all at slightly different angles. As I serve myself the stew, being careful not to spill it, I feel as though I were playing house. A faint light is burning in my sister's window on the second floor. I think about her, curled up in bed, surrounded by all those odors, and then I open my mouth wide to take in the darkness with my bite of stew.



MARCH 1 (SUNDAY), 14 WEEKS + 6 DAYS | The Diving Pool | MARCH 22 (SUNDAY), 17 WEEKS + 6 DAYS







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